Loosen your belt buckles and bite into today’s indulgent episode of The Gay Travel Podcast. Carl Hiehn – Out Adventures’ digital marketing specialist and a self-described Maître Fromager – is back in the studio to help us dish out our ‘3 Rules for Food Travel’. Bon appétit!
For a downloadable version of Season 2, Episode 2, click here.
Carl here, guest host on today’s Gay Travel Podcast and OA’s digital marketing specialist. Given my enthusiasm for gastronomy, I didn’t just convince Rob to let me be ‘on-air.’ But I also convinced him to let me recap the entire episode as well!
So buckle up, my little Bon Vivants, and let’s begin!
Let’s talk cheese
To fuel our delectable conversation, I decided to surprise my cohosts by bringing some pungent cheese into the Gay Travel Podcast studio: Specifically Brillat-Savarin and Shropshire Blue. If you pick up some Brillat at home, be sure to pair it with bubbles. Meanwhile, Shropshire would be great with something sweet like an iced wine or port.
Here are a few of my other favourite cheeses I didn’t get to talk about during the episode:
- Comte – Ask your cheesemonger for a 12-month-old comte. Older comte is too sharp to appreciate its incredible nuances.
- Beemster – I love pairing 2-3-year-old Beemster with a smoky whisky. The incredibly sharp, sweet cheese stands its own against a bold whisky.
- Camembert de Normandie – This is the traditional AOP camembert. Robust and stinky, it is best baked and served with apple slices.
- Taleggio – A fellow cheese fan once likened this stinky Italian offering to “that old sweater you love.” Even though it’s kinda gross and musky, you can’t stop coming back to it. Goes great with juicy Italian reds.
- BellaVitano – An American hybrid cheese. It has the sharpness of a cheddar and the sweetness of Parmiggiano. This cheese is often washed in unique flavours like coffee, chilli, Merlot or citrus & ginger.
Rule #1: Skipping the American Breakfast
Context, context, context. That was the theme of the day.
If you’re travelling alone and feeling experimental, I say get an early start on the local culinary scene. Breakfast varies greatly from country to country, if not region to region and is a fascinating part of any culture. In my opinion, travellers should consider skipping the Cheerios and start eating like a local for a truly immersive culinary experience.
“Well,” said Peter, wagging his finger as if to say, not so fast there, Mr. Iron Stomach. “Breakfast is the familiar meal that sets us up to be more adventurous throughout the day.”
Again, it’s all about context. Travelling with Mum? Continental it is! Travelling solo? Why not indulge in a bowl of Sri Lankan fish curry at 10 am as Rob delightfully recalled from his own journey?
The one thing Rob, Peter and I all agree on before 10 am is a freshly brewed cup of coffee. If you can’t get one in your hotel or homestay, hit the town and find a cute coffee shop.
Rule #2: Going Local
For this subsection of the conversation, we looked to the late, great Anthony Bourdain. Throughout his literary career, he often made note of his own rules surrounding travel and food:
- Don’t eat anywhere Americans eat.
- Don’t eat anywhere tour groups eat. (Except Out Adventures. *Wink*)
- Avoid anywhere with English menus.
- Avoid anywhere with nice bathrooms.
With this in mind, we all agreed to harness the power of Google is often necessary to find those local gems. Even better: if you’re in a homestay, AirBNB, or you have a local connection, ask your hosts for their recommendations. This is especially important in more rural areas that may not be as well connected to the web.
A few other tips we simmered over:
- Hit up the local markets.
- Enjoy a food tour. Urban Adventures is a great option.
- Try your hand at a local cooking class, such as Cooking at Home in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
- Finally, connect with local chefs using Eat With, a new app where you can book a dining experience in someone’s home, AirBNB-style!
Before we move on to our final rule, THIS was the polarizing Spicy Fried Tarantula we spent so much time mulling over. Would you eat it?
Rule #3: Eat Gourmet… At Least Once
As Rob correctly described, fine dining “is an experience, an art…” This is why all three of us agreed gay travellers should plan for at least one fine dining experience on vacation.
If you’re not part of the culinary cognoscenti, fear not! There are plenty of resources to guide your bookings, such as the annual World’s 50 Best lists. You may also consider the classic – albeit froufrou – Michelin Star Guide. Finally, Lonely Planet, culinary magazines like Saveur and even blogs are great resources for discovering a destination’s most celebrated chefs and restaurants.
Here are a few of the restaurants we mentioned:
One last bite
Shout out to Peter and Rob for letting me join in on this gourmet foray! And thank you to everyone who listened to today’s episode of the Gay Travel Podcast.
As mentioned in the episode, we’ll be giving away an Ottolenghi cookbook to one lucky listener. Comment on this blog post or any of its accompanying social media posts with your favourite international culinary experience. We’ll pick one entry and mail the individual a copy of an Ottolenghi cookbook.
To steal Peter’s famous farewell: Until next time, Never Lose Your Sense of Adventure!
Header image from Shutterstock.
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